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English & Welsh Treasure Act

All finders of gold and silver objects, and groups of coins from the same finds, over 300 years old, have a legal obligation to report such items under the Treasure Act 1996. Now prehistoric base-metal assemblages found after 1st January 2003 also qualify as Treasure.

 

All finds made on these hunts stick strictly to these laws.

What is the definition of Treasure?

The following finds are Treasure under the Act, if found after 24 September 1997 (or, in the case of category 2, if found after 1 January 2003):

1. Any metallic object, other than a coin, provided that at least 10 per cent by weight of metal is precious metal (that is, gold or silver) and that it is at least 300 years old when found. If the object is of prehistoric date it will be Treasure provided any part of it is precious metal.
2. Any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of prehistoric date that come from the same find (see below)
3. All coins from the same find provided they are at least 300 years old when found (but if the coins contain less than 10 per cent of gold or silver there must be at least ten of them). Only the following groups of coins will normally be regarded as coming from the same find:
(a) hoards that have been deliberately hidden
(b) smaller groups of coins, such as the contents of purses, that may been dropped or lost
(c) votive or ritual deposits.

4. Any object, whatever it is made of, that is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, another object that is Treasure.

5. Any object that would previously have been treasure trove, but does not fall within the specific categories given above. Only objects that are less than 300 years old, that are made substantially of gold or silver, that have been deliberately hidden with the intention of recovery and whose owners or heirs are unknown will come into this category. Note: An object or coin is part of the ‘same find’ as another object or coin if it is found in the same place as, or had previously been together with, the other object. Finds may have become scattered since they were originally deposited in the ground.

What should I do if I find something that may be Treasure?

You must report all finds of Treasure to a coroner for the district in which they are found either within 14 days after the day on which you made the discovery or within 14 days after the day on which you realised the find might be treasure. This is handled by us.

For details of your local coroner see the Treasure Act Code of Practice PDF 652KB



If you need advice on the Treasure Act, or reporting items of potential treasure, the regional Finds Liaison Officers will be happy to help.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme does not operate in Scotland or Northern Ireland.

The laws regarding Portable Antiquities in Scotland are very different than those in England and Wales. Whereas in England and Wales the recording of all non-Treasure finds is voluntary, all archaeological objects found in Scotland should be reported under Treasure Trove. Therefore our focus, since we are a voluntary recording Scheme, is upon people finding archaeological objects in England and Wales.

For more information on the law in Scotland see www.treasuretrovescotland.co.uk;
email info@treasuretrovescotland.co.uk or write to:
Treasure Trove Secretariat,
National Museums of Scotland,
Chambers Street,
Edinburgh,
EH1 1JF.

For more information on the law in Northern Ireland, see www.ehsni.gov.uk or write to:
Department of the Environment
5-33 Hill Street
Belfast
BT1 2LA
Tel: 028 9054 3001
Fax: 028 9054 3111

Property found in the sea or the seashore could be from a ship and is known technically as ‘wreck’. Wreck cannot be treasure because it will not have been buried with the intention to recover it. All wreck must be reported to the Receiver of Wreck. This can be done by downloading a form from the Receiver's website. The address of the Receiver of Wreck is:-

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Bay 1/05, Spring Place
105 Commercial Road
Southampton
Hampshire
S015 1EG
Tel: 02380 329474
Website: www.mcga.gov